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Dominos serves up a slice of tech innovation

Dominos serves up a slice of tech innovation

Michael Gillespie discusses the impact of technology on the franchised pizza retail chain

Michael Gillespie, group chief digital and technology officer, Dominos

Michael Gillespie, group chief digital and technology officer, Dominos

Technology is playing a central role in Domino's growth strategy - it's what helps the pizza retail giant stay ahead of the competition and expand into regions like Europe, from its Brisbane headquarters.

This past week has been a busy one for Dominos group chief digital and technology officer, Michael Gillespie and his team of about 100 IT staff. Gillespie tells CIO Australia he is about to get busier, with the release of an online service that will allow customers to track orders via their Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

DPE also announced the acquisition, 2.5 million euros ($3.95 million) -- for the rights and entitlements of Domino's Pizza Scandinavia, a retailer that was forced into administration. It acquired stores in Luxembourg not long ago – taking its store count in Europe from 153 stores (2006) to 1000.

It's a separate entity from Domino’s Pizza in the US, but has a master franchisee license, and uses the main point of sales (POS) system handed out by Domino’s Pizza. However, all technology and acquisition decisions are solely owned by Dominos Pizza Enterprises (DPE).

Earlier this year, the retailer launched New Pizza Chef with augmented reality, for mobile devices, cashing in on the Pokemon gaming craze. The app uses augmented reality to show customer created pizzas, and includes digital stickers, characters and pop-up surprises. These two apps add to DPE’s list of technology innovations, which started with the launch of an iPhone app in 2009.

According to Gillespie, his team was very much like a “Brisbane software house”, delivering products and services to a number of regions.

“We have a diverse amount of team members -- we have over 100 people, and they are distributed over Australia, Japan and Europe,” he said.

“The team sizes in the offices vary depending on where we do some development, where we do help desk support, store infrastructure and point of sales support. All those type of things are split from a region perspective. 

“A lot of the core digital system development is still retained and delivered in the Australian market. We’re almost like a Brisbane software house, delivering software for an Asian market, for the European market and Australia and New Zealand. We’re generating a tremendous amount of sales in each of those markets via the digital platforms.”

Gillespie said Domino's has always been focused on using technology to give its customers more ways of ordering -- making it easier or adding new levels of flexibility that fit in with their lives. But it also does a lot in the technology space, for our stores and teams to, work efficiently as well.

“There are no plans for us to slow down… technology has always been an important part of the business. We’re trying to be...leaders in both technology at a front end to customers, and also the back end at a store level,” he said.  

“We've shared before that we're working currently on a on a brand new app ordering, which will come out later this year. [We] will, as we've done in the past, continue to evolve our platforms and solutions.”

It’s also important for it to make sure that its franchisers are also on board with the technology products and services Dominos releases so they can stay ahead of the competition, he said.

“We run the same point-of-sale systems in all of our stores,” he said. “That's great for us because then there's a standardisation out there that we can build our digital ordering platforms, to speak to one particular store based platform.

Domino's is now operating in many markets, its Denmark and Luxembourg acquisitions add to its existing operations in Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Japan.

Gillespie says the Australian market alone receives 70 per cent of its orders from its digital platform, which has been a transformational change for its stores because it reduces the time staff spends on phone calls. This means they can make pizzas faster and more efficiently.

“It’s for us to use technology to enhance those experiences for them,” he said. “We’ve got a product developed with Dragontail Systems that will be looking at those pizzas as it comes out of the oven to assess the quality of the pizza.”

As for whether or not the cost of technology is a burden for franchisees, Gillespie said a lot of the ordering technology his team "can push down to the POS."

"Regardless of how customers order the food – be it through ordering via a mobile phone or a desktop – it will come through as a digital order, so franchisees don’t have to do anything different in their operational process.

“You want the store to have the easiest and simplest way of getting those orders to come through, to appear on the screen for them, to make the pizzas, or the chicken or the desserts – that’s important,” he said. 

“When we do introduce technology -- it’s operational driven -- so we work with [our] operations [team] on how to integrate that technology in the most seamless way for our stores. The idea is that technology is complementary to what our team members are doing and [should not] create hurdles or friction.”

Gillespie has been with Dominos for the past 11 years, starting as online marketing manager A/NZ in 2008.

"Everyone’s background is diverse in technology,” he said. “I’ve been very lucky to have had quite a long time -- close to 11 years at Domino's -- and in various roles, growing in more of a digital marketing space, then into a technology and digital space.”

Gillespie has collected a range of skills and knowledge around technology and digital solutions and has also been exposed the to customer and digital marketing side of the business.

“I think that's really helped me get a great level of...empathy for an end user which is important in any solution design,” he says. “Also hopefully it gives me enough knowledge to understand how technical solutions plug in and interact with each other and the challenges that can come from that.”

 

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